Sunday, August 31, 2008

"Doing something" in Britain

What a crock! Enforcement as theater! A huge raid to grab a couple of hard-working, harmless Chinese kitchenhands -- when Britain already has thousands of illegals who have been ordered out of the country but who just stay on -- usually getting welfare as well! The Chinese were an easy grab for lazy bureaucrats, that's all it was about. Totally useless camouflage for chaotic immigration control

Two people were led away by police and immigration officers following a raid on a Chinese restaurant in the city centre last night. Police officers were joined by about 12 immigration officials from across the south-east in the "intelligence-led" operation at the Gourmet Plaza, in Cowgate. The raid was organised and carried out by the Border and Immigration Agency's Enforcement Unit, based in St Ives.

Five unmarked people carriers swooped on the restaurant just after 6pm yesterday as diners were preparing to enter the premises for an early meal.

The "closed" sign remained up at the Gourmet Plaza as prospective customers were turned away by police and asked to come back at a later time.

Seconded Cambridge police Inspector Trevor Tendall said: "We are acting on information received by a source. "This is a joint operation involving police and immigration officers from across the county." As prospective diners and onlookers watched, officers led out two men of Chinese origin in handcuffs, just before 7pm. The pair were put into separate people carriers and driven away from the scene. [LOL! A people-carrier each!] After the raid, an immigration officer, who did not want to be named, said: "We have acted and carried out the plan, and we are satisfied with the results today."

As the last of the officers left, five members of staff rushed out of the restaurant and across Cowgate to confront an officer in what was believed to be a dispute about a warrant. When another member of staff found the piece of paper they were seeking, the staff filed back into the eaterie.

Customers, who had been told to go and have a drink in the nearby Drapers Arms, waited patiently on the street to see if the popular restaurant, with its all-you-can-eat $13 supper deal, would open its doors. It re-opened at about 7.30pm.


Black doll sparks outrage

We read:
"Binmen who drove round with a large golliwog mascot strapped to the front of their truck have outraged residents. But passersby in the town, which has residents of many different racial origins, were horrified by the prank - one said the council workers were smiling and laughing at the reactions the lorry invited.

The refuse truck was owned by Woodend Municipal Services - but leased to Reading Borough Council, whose staff used it to collect rubbish from the streets of the Berkshire town.

Local resident Tim Rhodes said that he was shocked when he saw the bin lorry driving towards him in the town centre's Milford Road. 'My reaction was one of complete shock and disbelief. It is the sort of thing you would see in the 1960s but I thought we had all grown up a bit now,' said 40-year-old Mr Rhodes.

A spokesman for Reading Borough Council apologised for the golliwog incident and said action was being taken against the binmen involved. 'The council has investigated this matter and spoken to the lorry driver,' he said. 'The employee has been informed of the serious nature of this complaint and his management colleagues are giving further consideration to how the matter will proceed. 'In its role as an employer and a provider of public services in Reading, the council has a responsibility to directly and consistently tackle exclusion, disadvantage and discrimination.


Jokes are becoming very risky in sourpuss socialist Britain. Previous uproar in Britain about golliwog dolls covered here. I had a golliwog myself when I was a little kid. They are a stylized representation of a black man but kids loved them. Is that bad? I would have thought that teaching kids to have warm feelings towards blacks would be acclaimed by the do-gooders. Silly old me!

The undead

Trapped inside their bodies, apparently switched off to the world, but still alive: they are the undead. Or so we thought. Forty per cent of patients in a `vegetative state' are misdiagnosed. Now British scientists are leading the field in trying to put that right

Kate Bainbridge is a lively 37-year-old former schoolteacher. We are communicating in the conservatory of her parents' home in south Cambridge. She has expressive eyes and a broad and ready smile, but she can utter only occasional single words with difficulty. She sits in a wheelchair "speaking" with the aid of a letter-board, using her left forefinger to spell out words individually.

Ten years ago, Kate went into a deep coma and was on a ventilator for several weeks. She had suffered severe brain inflammation after contracting a viral infection. When she came out of the coma, she opened her eyes and could breathe naturally, but she was unresponsive to speech and visual stimuli, and appeared to lack all conscious awareness. She was still in this condition four months after falling ill, and was later diagnosed to be in a persistent vegetative state, or PVS: in other words, persistently unaware. But the diagnosis was wrong.

Although Kate could not speak, or hear properly, or make any kind of signal, or take in sustenance except through a tube into the stomach, she was sometimes aware of herself and her surroundings. She had a raging thirst that was not alleviated by the ward staff. She was racked with pain. Sometimes she'd cry out, but the ward staff thought it was just a reflex action. Kate suffered so much pain and despair that she tried to take her own life by holding her breath.

Then a Cambridge neuroscientist called Dr Adrian Owen put her in a special kind of scanner and performed an unprecedented experiment. It revealed evidence of fluctuating levels of brain activation when she was presented with pictures of her parents. From that point, she started her long journey back into the world. This is a story about brain-impaired patients who come gradually out of coma into "minimal awareness" after being misdiagnosed as being in PVS: breathing, appearing to be wakeful, yet deemed to be dead to themselves and the world. It is also about the disastrous consequences of such misdiagnoses, estimated in the UK and other countries to be running at two in five cases. And, crucially, it is about a neuroscientific research programme that is set to transform the prospects of diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of brain-injured people the world over.

Only an estimated 20% of patients return, like the Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond after his car crash in September, to fully functioning normality after serious brain injury. The range of disability following brain damage is hugely varied in type and severity. It is not known how many PVS and minimally conscious patients there are in this country, since no central registry exists. It is likely, according to a canvass of many neurology professionals, to be in the tens of thousands. More certain is the grim reality of hospital wards and long-term care homes where the persistently vegetative and the minimally conscious languish, sometimes for decades.

To write this article I have had the sobering experience of witnessing the plight of patients with severely impaired consciousness - the intubations, the double incontinence, the stricken semicircle of wheelchairs parked before the unwatched day-room TV. And I have met the anguished families of those who are denied final grieving and closure for a loved one condemned to what appears a living death. All too often I have spoken to a wife or husband, or mother or father, who will travel anything up to two hours each way by taxi, every day, to spend time with an unresponsive child or spouse.

But here's at least one mordantly amusing and true story told to me by a psychologist at Putney's Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability. "Young man with motorbike head injury in a coma. His mum, a keen evangelical, comes every day with friends to sing Onward, Christian Soldiers by his bedside. She's hoping to stimulate his brain into action. It works: he comes round, but he can't speak. So they fit him up with one of those Stephen Hawking-type laptops, and the first words he speaks are: "For God's sake, Mum, shut it!" That's about as funny as it gets on a brain-injury ward, but there's a serious take-home message. Even minimally aware patients can retain emotions, personality, a capacity to suffer - and, as the young biker showed, attitude.

The biggest, most tragic clinical myth about brain injury today is that PVS can be reliably diagnosed by bedside observation alone. It has in fact been known for at least a decade, ever since a key survey of brain-injured patients, that misdiagnosis of the condition runs at more than 40%, a statistic originally calculated by Professor Keith Andrews, former head of the Putney hospital, and confirmed by recent surveys in Europe and North America. This means that valuable rehabilitation strategies are routinely neglected, and misdiagnosed patients end up on unsuitable wards or in care homes where their needs are neither understood nor met.

Up to 12,000 people under 40 in this country suffer traumatic brain injury every year, and there are serious deficiencies in their rehabilitation, according to Professor John Pickard, head of neurosurgery at Addenbrooke's hospital, Cambridge: "The tendency for patients to be left to languish on general medical, surgical and orthopaedic wards continues to their detriment." The shocking term being used by campaigning neurologists and neurosurgeons is that unknown numbers of patients are being just "warehoused".

Christine Simpson, a mother of two in her mid-fifties, and her husband, Colin, encountered the PVS misdiagnosis phenomenon two years ago. After suffering a brainstem stroke, Christine was first admitted to the intensive-care unit at the Princess Alexandra hospital, Harlow, then transferred to a general respiratory ward, where she remained for about a month.

"I was told that she would probably get a chest infection and not survive more than a few weeks," says Colin. "Even on the respiratory ward I was told she was still in coma, though she was communicating with me at times through her eye movements. Only because myself and our two grown-up sons were constantly at her bedside did she get proper attention. "On one occasion I found her lying flat with a deflated tracheotomy cuff. She was blue in the face and having difficulty breathing."

Other instances of poor care, Colin claims, involved a catheter bag infrequently changed, and a gastric tube not replaced routinely according to clinical guidelines. He also contends that Christine was prematurely discharged from intensive care as a result of the PVS misdiagnosis. His formal petition that the hospital has not done enough to resolve his complaints was upheld by the Healthcare Commission on November 9.

Much more here

A conservative approach to poverty

Last week, George Osborne made a speech about fairness in which he castigated the Government for its failure to deal with poverty. A Tory Shadow Chancellor attacking Labour's record on poverty: that really is a raid into enemy territory. In the long run, however, it could leave the Tories open to a counter-attack.

In the short run, Mr Osborne did not rely on rhetoric. His arguments were reinforced by statistics that gave them added bite. Although the Shadow Chancellor was happy to concede that many Labour MPs were sincere in their abhorrence of poverty, any Labour supporter who reads the speech will wince at the dissection of Labour's inability to realise its ideals.

But Mr Osborne was not merely trying to add to Labour's miseries: hardly necessary these days. His speech had a serious purpose. He was outlining a new Tory theory of poverty and the state. He insisted that this Government was not failing because it did not care enough and had not spent enough. It was failing because its strategy was fundamentally misguided.

The author of that strategy was Gordon Brown. His insistence that "only the state can guarantee fairness" has both underpinned and undermined Labour's approach to social policy. By stifling initiative and imposing central direction, not least through the target culture, it had ensured that much of the extra money devoted to health and education was wasted.

This helps to explain why only 176 pupils who received free school meals gained three As at A level this year and why half of all children in care leave school without a single GCSE. There is a direct relationship between that last statistic and social misery. Many of those uneducated victims of care will be busy acquiring diplomas in mugging, burglary, prostitution and drug-taking.

Instead of Gordon Brown's great clunking state, the Tories want to empower churches, charities and social action co-operatives to help the needy. They also propose a radical change in the supply of education, ending the Government's monopoly over state schooling. To improve opportunity for the poorest, argues Mr Osborne, society and the state must work together.

A dramatic programme for social reform, this is the basis of David Cameron's approach to government. Shortly after he became Tory leader, he met Nicolas Sarkozy, who told him how much he admired the Tories' economic reforms of the 1980s. Mr Cameron hopes that in the 2030s, a French president will be telling a Tory leader how much he admires the social reforms of the 2010s.

The Tory party always has two great tasks: to defend the integrity of the nation and to solve the pressing questions of the day. Apart from the economy, two intractable and related problems have now forced themselves onto the agenda: how to redeem the underclass and how to ensure that the public services serve the public. Mr Cameron will not duck either challenge.

Well and good, but enthusiasm will not be enough. Contemporary British poverty is not just an economic phenomenon. It arises from cultural demoralisation. In the EU, Britain has the highest proportion of children living in households where no adult works. Though many hereditary peers have been banished from the House of Lords, hereditary unemployment is flourishing in the inner cities.

London is one of the mightiest engines of wealth creation in the whole of history. There is no reason why any able-bodied youngster who looks willing and trustworthy should not find a job. Yet a short Tube journey from the Bank of England, there are housing estates where no one thinks in terms of finding work.

David Cameron is determined that this will change. Yet even if he succeeds, it will take years, and the middle classes will not be idle. As the economy recovers, opportunities will increase. The middle classes will take them. Economic innovation will create new, well paid jobs. Middle-class children will rush to fill them.

That should not dismay sensible Tories. As the middle classes grow richer, they create the wealth to fund social programmes. In order to clear up Gordon Brown's toxic economic legacy, the Cameron government will depend on the efforts and tax contributions of the middle classes, and those efforts will be forthcoming only if they are adequately rewarded.


UK Coal is seeking to cash in on rising energy prices through higher production and the end of long-term, low-priced legacy contracts. The company is already investing œ55m each in its collieries at Thoresby in Nottinghamshire and Kellingley in West Yorkshire to open up new reserves and is expected to decide within the next six months whether to reopen the Harworth mine near Doncaster, which has been mothballed for more than two years.

Chief executive Jon Lloyd said he believed it was accepted that in the face of higher energy prices, and despite the impact of the large combustion plants directive, which limits power station emissions, coal would play a "significant and perhaps major part in the UK's energy mix over the next two decades".

"There will be environmental challenges but frankly it's a political must to keep the lights on," Lloyd said. He said the company would decide on Harworth either late this year or in the first quarter of 2009. If it was reopened, at a cost of up to œ175m, it would eventually provide another 2.2 m to 2.3 m tonnes of coal a year. The key factors would be the geology, which would determine the cost of accessing the reserves, and their size - thought to be 25m to 40m tonnes.

More here

Top doctors slam NHS drug rationing

Britain's top cancer consultants have accused the government's drugs rationing body of ignoring the plight of patients forced to sell their cars and remortgage their houses to pay for cancer treatments freely available in Europe. Twenty-six professors blame the severe restrictions imposed by the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) on its failure to "get its sums right".

Nice refuses, on grounds of cost, to recommend some drugs for patients with advanced kidney cancer. The consultants, who include the directors of oncology at Britain's two biggest cancer hospitals, the Royal Marsden in London and Christie hospital in Manchester, claim there is enough money in the NHS to pay for the drugs.

Their letter to The Sunday Times states: "We now spend similar amounts to Europe on health generally and cancer care in particular, but less than two thirds of the European average on cancer drugs. It just can't be that everybody else around the world is wrong about access to innovative cancer care and the NHS right in rationing it so severely." They say: "The time has come for a radical change in how the NHS makes rationing decisions for cancer."

This weekend Andrew Dillon, the chief executive of Nice, and Sir Michael Rawlins, the chairman, challenged the cancer experts to explain which acutely ill patients should be sacrificed to free resources for cancer sufferers. They said: "There is a finite pot of money for the NHS, which is determined annually by parliament. If one group of patients is provided with cost-ineffective care, other groups - lacking powerful lobbyists - will be denied cost-effective care for miserable conditions like schizophrenia, Crohn's disease or cystic fibrosis."

This week patients from the Kidney Cancer Support Network will demonstrate outside the Nice offices in London against the refusal to fund the kidney cancer drugs Avastin, Sutent, Nexavar and Torisel.


No good economic news in socialist-run Britain: "Britain's Treasury chief has told a newspaper that the country is suffering its worst economic crisis for 60 years, and more pain is yet to come. The Guardian newspaper has quoted Alistair Darling as saying the slump is ``going to be more profound and long-lasting than people thought''. In an interview for the paper's weekend edition, Darling said the economic conditions faced by Britain and the world ``are arguably the worst they have been in 60 years''. Darling also acknowledged that voters were angry with the governing Labour Party, which has been in power for 11 years."

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